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WAPA: St. Croix ‘Fared Worst’ From Tropical Storm Erika

wapa assesses

CHRISTIANSTED – Stores in town were closed during the early morning business hours Friday as residents struggled to adjust to life without electricity in the wake of Tropical Storm Erika.

Power was restored by the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority at 10:48 a.m. Most lost power at 7:40 p.m. Thursday as the winds from Erika were just starting to kick up.

The Tropical Storm Warning for the Virgin Islands was discontinued this morning and a flash flood advisory issued late yesterday afternoon was set to expire today at noon.

Gov. Kenneth Mapp and Police Commissioner Delroy Richards Sr. announced just after noon Thursday that a curfew would go into effect at 11 p.m. Thursday due to a state of emergency having been declared — that curfew was lifted effective 11 a.m. Friday.

On Facebook, WAPA said it had nearly completed its assessments to determine the level of damage sustained by Tropical Storm Erika.

“St. Croix fared the worst,” WAPA said. “While the Richmond Plant suffered no damage and is functioning normally, there is some damage on the transmission and distribution system. Line crews have been dispatched across the island to conduct the assessments as well as to replace damaged poles and downed lines. Presently Feeders 1 and 5 are on line on St. Croix and once the assessments are complete, we will establish a restoration schedule and proceed to restore power. ”

Dr. Chris Bucher wrote to the Virgin Islands Free Press to say that the power went out in Rust-Op-Twist about 7:30 p.m. Thursday and has been off for 20 hours since. Dr. Bucher said efforts to reach WAPA have been unsuccessful as messages to the government-run agency’s telephone system get caught in an eternal voicemail loop.

On Facebook, Manuel Gutierrez said he has been without electricity for 26 hours in Estate Shoys since the passing of Tropical Storm Erika Thursday.

“WAPA you are a let down. I did not experience any excessively high winds during Erika, I drove around today and did not see a single pole on the ground,” Gutierrez said. “Mr. Hugo Hodge stated on the radio that only 12 – 14 poles were down territory wide, so what is the issue? Where is the communication with your customers? Just checked the WAPA website again and what I mostly see is a lot of pictures of Mr. Hodge, but no usable information. I hate to experience what will happen if we have a real storm. We Virgin Islanders deserve better!”

Meanwhile WAPA distributed information via Facebook.

“Potable water production was suspended on Thursday as a precaution, but has been resumed,” WAPA said. “The Seven Seas reverse osmosis facility will be operating at full capacity. While there are no problems with water storage capacity on St. Croix, the Contentment Pump Station has no electrical service. As a result and until the pump station is repowered, potable water service to customers west of King’s Hill remains normal at 100% pressure; customers in the Sunny Isle and Richmond areas will experience low water pressure; customers on the north side or Princess areas will experience low to no water pressure; and customers in higher elevations will experience no water pressure.”

On St. Thomas, WAPA said it had sent line crews have been dispatched to address pocket service interruptions across the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. As of now, all feeders are on line and the power plant continues to generate electricity.

Potable water production was suspended on Thursday as a precaution, but has been resumed, WAPA said. The Seven Seas reverse osmosis facility will be operating at full capacity. There were no issues with the potable water distribution or water storage capacity on St. Thomas.

Customers are urged to call WAPA’s Emergency Call Center at 774-1424 to report service interruptions. Information on service interruptions can also be submitted via the WAPA web site www.viwapa.vi.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

2 Comments

  1. Chris bucher
    August 28, 2015 at 2:36 PM — Reply

    Have been trying to reach Wapa since 730pm thurs Rust Op Twist out of power over 20 hrs. Keep getting looped back to messages Dr Bucher’s patients can not reach him pls get word to Wapa. Thanks

  2. Larry Londer
    August 31, 2015 at 8:47 AM — Reply

    Here we are Monday morning and still no one has even touched Spring Gut Road Rte 85 our power line is still laying in the middle of the road and one of the poles I reported to 911 Saturday night that was on fire, because I could not reach WAPA, was still burning Sunday afternoon and the entire top of the pole transformer and all fell to the ground. Sent 3 notifications on WAPA site including the actual pole numbers with no responses. I understand there may not be a huge number of residents affected back here but it is disturbing to hear reports that we are 100%.

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